More Decent Work: Radical Participation In Organizational Life

Monday, July 14, 2014: 10:45 AM
Room: Booth 65
Oral Presentation
Catherine CASEY , School of Management, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom
                                               More Decent Work: Radical Participation in Organizational Life


The challenges facing workers in much of the world include new forms of uncertainty, heightened competitiveness, and spectres of austerity. These global challenges stimulate new analytical approaches, re-theorizations, and a search for innovative socio-cultural visions, and practices, for work and workers. The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) promotion since the turn of the 20thcentury of a core agenda of “Decent Work” gives international voice to aspirations for just economies and fair standards of work for all workers. Its pursuit of “decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity” have enduring relevance to virtually all dimensions of human productive endeavour and in diverse economic and national contexts. Yet advances toward the accomplishment of decent work continue to be slow, erratic and, moreover, frequently coercively opposed.

Amid readily visible economic concerns there arise further questions in regard to quality of work life and employment relations. Research reports deterioration of cultural qualities – of non-wage aspects – of work in many sectors including professional occupations in developed countries. In response, many call for a renewal of business and organizational ethics and a revitalization of employee participation in organizational life and in substantive decision-making. This paper particularly adds to discussions of substantive worker participation and organizational democracy. Crucially, it proposes that deep obstructions to the development of decent work and substantive, collaborative participation may lie in more than economic injustice and material inequalities. Drawing on Aristotelian, phenomenological and feminist philosophies it sketches a radical, extra-materialist, inter-subjective conception of quality of work and participation. That conception poses a substantive challenge to policy development and responsibilities for the qualitative organization and practices of work and workplace life.